The Fairfax County Executive’s new budget removes funding for youth with intellectual disabilities leaving Fairfax County Public Schools in 2017.
The people of Fairfax County are not that uncaring. You are not that selfish. I know because I have seen how amazing you are. But the County’s budget introduced Tuesday cut all funding for the youth with intellectual disabilities who will be leaving the school system this year.
The state has a program called the Medicaid Waiver, which provides support to Virginia individuals with developmental disabilities, enabling them to live and thrive in our community. But there are over 11,000 Virginians on the wait list for those services. My daughter, Beth, who has Down syndrome, has been on that wait list for years.
Because Fairfax County is a caring community, for years and years the Board has chosen to provide some support to those waiting for the waiver so that they can continue to be active after leaving FCPS. Each year, a new group of students graduates, and the county has realized that FCPS has invested and believed in them and we shouldn’t now abandon them to the sofa. The County has provided some support so these young people can continue to stay active, safe and, hopefully, find employment in the community.
This year, my daughter Beth leaves FCPS. Tuesday, we were heartsick to be told the County Executive did not think she or her graduating classmates were important enough to make the budget. But I know this is not true of our community.
Beth was born here and has always lived here. She was included in Terraset Elementary, Langston Hughes Middle, and South Lakes High School — with the support of amazing teachers and classmates. She was in a Reston Girl Scout Troop for over 10 years, earning her Gold Award — with the support of leaders and community members. She was on the SLHS Swim Team for four years and the Glade Gators for 13 through the support of cheering coaches, parents and friends. She was a part of a wonderfully inclusive SLHS Choral Program with Ms. G, and Dance Program with Ms. Girdy. She was “Defying Gravity” as she danced at Broadway Night. She was twice SLHS Homecoming Princess.
All along the way, the Reston community has supported her. She could have done none of it alone.
So I know that Fairfax County is a caring community. Can you please let the County Executive Ed Long (703-324-2531) know that we are? More importantly, please let the Board of Supervisors know that the budget must include support for these young adults as it has in the past.
Beth has spoken to Supervisor Cathy Hudgins. We know that she cares. Let her and the other supervisors know that we value these young people with intellectual disabilities and will support them.
Mary Nell Clark
Residents of the Hunter Mill District will have their chance on March 4 to weigh in on the proposed Fairfax County FY2018 budget.
County Executive Edward Long presented the $4.1 billion proposal to the county Board of Supervisors at their Tuesday meeting. Each supervisor is holding local meetings to get community input on its details.
Hunter Mill Supervisor Cathy Hudgins will hold her summit Saturday, March 4 from 8:30 a.m. to noon at the Frying Pan Farm Park visitor center (2739 West Ox Road, Herndon). In addition to the budget presentation and a speaker, the event will also include a “build-a-budget” workshop that Hudgins said would help residents understand what has to be done with the funds available.
In her response to Long’s proposal to the board Tuesday, Hudgins said the state has made it difficult for Fairfax County to “control [its] own destiny.”
“It is troubling when we have to return our value to the state in the way that we do,” Hudgins said. “When you think about that, it is daunting to have our citizens look to us and think that we actually do control it, and we don’t.”
Hudgins said a lack of diversity of revenue for the county, caused by an “inability to break through the stronghold that is in the general assembly,” is forcing some residents to be priced out.
“The cost of living here, it does increase, and many of those seniors that I talked with at a senior group [Monday] are saying, ‘I have to move if I want to stay in a place that is affordable for me,'” she said. “We are going to have a lot of discussion from people on that conversation.”
Following their community meetings, supervisors plan to present their changes to the executive’s recommendations on April 25. The budget is scheduled to be adopted May 2.
Hudgins will be joined at the March 4 budget session by Board of Supervisors Chairman Sharon Bulova and Vienna Mayor Laurie DiRocco. Residents interested in attending are asked to RSVP to [email protected].
Replacement of the Embry Rucker Community Shelter and several Reston-area fire stations are on Fairfax County’s list of projects to tackle in the five-year advertised Capital Improvement Program.
County Executive Ed Long recently released the CIP to show the county’s priorities during the next budget cycle and enable the county to plan for the future.
Long has proposed a $3.8 billion overall advertised budget, with $22.04 million from the general fund going to support capital improvements. Tens of millions more will come from bond referendums in the future.
Long says county staff is “currently working to prioritize all county projects to develop specific recommendations for the next two county referenda scheduled for fall 2016 (FY 2017) and fall 2018 (FY 2019). An amount between $200 and $250 million is included in the CIP for planning purposes.
Meanwhile, Long has also predicted a budget gap of more than $90 million as the county gets ready to plan for 2017. The real estate tax rate in the county will stay the same as in 2014 — $1.09 per $100 of assessed value.
“We have turned over every rock for cost-saving opportunities,” he wrote in the introduction to the CIP.
There will be public hearings on the budget in general on April 7 (4 p.m.), 8 and 9 (both 1 p.m.) at the Fairfax County Government Center. The budget markup will happen on April 21, and the Board of Supervisors will vote on it on April 28.
Meanwhile, here are the Reston-area projects mentioned in the Capital Improvement Program through 2020:
Reston Town Center North: This project currently includes $700,000 to develop an overall master plan that reconfigures and provides integrated redevelopment of various Fairfax County and Inova properties at Reston Town Center North (south of Baron Cameron Avenue between Town Center Parkway and Fountain Drive).
Three facilities impacted by the redevelopment are the Reston Library, the Embry Rucker Shelter, and the North County Human Services Center. Fairfax County plans to solicit an initial Public-Private Education Facilities and Infrastructure (PPEA) for two County-owned parcels, known as Blocks 7 and 8, on which the library and shelter are currently located. The County will solicit a future PPEA for the remaining parcels, including the parcel containing the North County Human Services Center, after a Development Agreement is signed by Fairfax County and Inova.
The entire project is expected to cost $20 million.
South Lakes High School: $14,650,406 for capacity enhancements. Construction funds are unfunded.
Herndon High School: $102,139,918 for the renovation of this facility. Construction funds are unfunded.
Synthetic Turf Maintenance: Funding in the amount of $6,735,338 has been included for the countywide athletic field maintenance and sports program in FY 2016. This level of funding is supported by an increased General Fund transfer.
Reston Community Center Improvements: $647,000 is required for the replacement of the RCC backstage HVAC unit, replacement of the CenterStage theatre roof sections, replacement of the Hunters Woods front building area, and replacement of light fixtures. (more…)